Known in the Bread

I have always loved the “Walk to Emmaus” passage. It is one of my favorite post-Easter readings. I totally relate to two men who unknowingly encounter the risen Jesus and are so startled by the very notion of a risen Jesus that they don’t know until the very end that they have been walking with the RISEN JESUS!

Let’s be honest. There are many times in our lives when we have failed to realize that the risen Jesus has been walking by our side, too.

Jesus is sneaky like that.

Jesus joins these guys as they are discussing all the events that had just taken place in Jerusalem, ending in the crucifixion. They related a lot of good detail about Jesus, and how they thought he was the Messiah, the One who would deliver Israel. They then recounted how the women had “confused them” this morning by reporting that the tomb was discovered to be empty. Everything was laid out before them, but they couldn’t put two and two together.

Jesus was a tad peeved.

Luke 24 (The Message)

25-27 Then he said to them, “So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can’t you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don’t you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?”

Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him.

Can you image any better “Prophets of the Old Testament” professor? The fellows still didn’t get it…but at least they had the good sense to invite Jesus to dinner.

28-31 They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. He acted as if he were going on but they pressed him: “Stay and have supper with us. It’s nearly evening; the day is done.” So he went in with them. And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared.

In all that is beautiful about this passage, it is the singular moment when Jesus blessed and broke the bread that the power of the risen Lord was revealed, and their eyes were opened.

That is exactly what happens in communion. Jesus becomes known to us in the breaking of the bread. We arrive at the altar, looking for him. When the bread is broken, we know that it is for our sake that the brokenness happens. He broke his body to heal OUR brokenness. That is what we recognize in the bread.

Communion has been set aside in my church for the duration of the pandemic, following the suggestion of our Bishop. Many people have adopted a practice of home communion, and some churches have created online communion. I have a friend who celebrated communion all by herself on Easter Sunday by carrying the elements in a backpack up a sand dune, and taking them as the sun came up. I think that is beautiful. I think it is ALL beautiful. I think abstaining is also beautiful.

I know for me, when I finally am able to take and serve communion, the abstinence from it will make that moment all the sweeter. I want more than anything to be TOGETHER when that happens, and I pray it happens soon.

But in the meantime, know this: the risen Jesus has been walking with us all along.

Walking with Jesus by Janie Serbousek

The Hiding Place

Many years ago I participated in women’s retreats that included a worship session that dealt with helping the participants release long-buried hurts. I was amazed at some of the conversations that followed that session. One in particular has stayed with me. I sat under a piano with a woman until 2:30 in the morning as she told me a life story that involved an affair, an unwanted pregnancy, a secret abortion, a life of regret, self-abuse, and depression. She had released all of that at the altar at the conclusion of the evening, and was finally ready and able to tell someone the things she had carried in her heart for decades. I saw the release, healing, and new start that being forgiven brought to this woman. The transformation was profound. Happy are those who are forgiven!

Today’s Psalm is a reminder that the forgiven are the blessed ones. Other translations use the word “happy” instead of “blessed.” This is a psalm of David, who knew what it meant to be forgiven after carrying the burden of sin for so long. His own foray into adultery, murder, coveting, deceit, and disobedience made him an expert on this subject:

Psalm 32 (ESV)

1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
    whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
    and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
    my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

I acknowledged my sin to you,
    and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
    and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

David gives us first-hand knowledge of the relief he felt after he finally opened up and was honest with God and himself. He felt the heaviness of God’s hand upon him until he finally acknowledged his actions. When he released it, he discovered that God is a hiding place of refuge:

Therefore let everyone who is godly
    offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
surely in the rush of great waters,
    they shall not reach him.

You are a hiding place for me;
    you preserve me from trouble;
    you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah

Is God calling you to release something buried deep in your soul? Is he saying that it is time to unburden, and let forgiveness be your blessing? Steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord. God wants nothing more than to remove the heaviness of things you have carried for too long. IT IS TIME.

Won’t you let him?

10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
    but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.
11 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous,
    and shout for joy, all you upright in heart

Happy are the Forgiven! By Michelle Robertson